In Part 1 of this post (link), I focused on the overall cost benefit analysis – actually lack thereof – for the HSE 21 initiative. Even if this was a useful or beneficial undertaking from an educational perspective – which I see no proof – is there some overall benefit in terms of dollars? With school funding more limited each year, it is an important question. The short answer is, “We don’t know.” If this concerns you, please read Part 1 then continue here.
This post will focus on the cost to families. One of the benefits repeatedly mentioned for HSE 21 is that it will save families money. Textbook fees and supplies are expensive, and surely a digital approach will save money. This is the one and only area where the administration has shown some numbers, and it will save money for textbook fees. But there’s one big catch.
If you factor in the cost of the iPad, whether rented or purchased, it will actually cost you more.
The following table is from the Textbooks & Digital Curriculum FAQ (link):
Consider now the $125/year rental cost for the iPad, as given in the iPad Costs & Insurance FAQ (link). That makes the table look more like this (with variances):
My student will be in 5th grade next year, and 6th grade the following. If I were to rent an iPad, I should expect increased costs to the tune of $115 for intermediate school. Maybe my math is off, but I’m just not seeing the savings. Even if the expected fees for 2014-16 were expected to change, it would have to be an astronomical increase to make the iPads even break even.
Remember that, if one rents an iPad from HSE, you do not get to keep the device after four years. So this is all for consumables and rent. If you buy an iPad, rather than pay $500 to rent an obsolete device, it’s possible that you’ll break even. Possible. If you have any repair, damage, or loss, your real costs balloon to unreasonable heights.
Part of the problem is that, in the initial design for this program, the administration assumed that there would be grant funding to offset the cost increase to parents. It was acknowledged that costs would be higher without free money from somewhere. But HSE is a high-performing school system in a relatively affluent county for Indiana. It was probably not a reasonable assumption to make, and the grants never materialized. Now we, the parents, get to pay the cost for this adventure.
Any justification through educational necessity – or even marginal benefit – is absent (Part 1, Part 2). The financial underpinning is likewise deficient, either top-down from Part 1 of this post or bottom-up shown here. It is now the end of the school year, and it feels like it’s too late to make a difference.
HSE sure feels like a good place not to be…